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Molecular Biology, Biotechnology, and Genomics (MBBG) Research Experiences for Teachers (RET)

Brandi Geisinger and Mari Kemis are leading the evaluation of the Molecular Biology, Biotechnology, and Genomics (MBBG) Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program at Iowa State University. The program mission is to improve the quality of secondary level education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in Iowa public schools. The RET program has four interconnected objectives: to alter teachers’ 1) confidence in teaching STEM concepts, 2) understanding of lab techniques, safety, and biorenewables topics, 3) confidence in explaining STEM career options to their students, and 4) understanding and teaching of the nature and practice of science. The RET provides high school teachers with first hand experiences in the design, methods and analysis of research associated with biorenewable chemicals engineered for the purpose of clean bio-based energy resources. Teachers participate in workshops, colloquia, and journal clubs and gain hands-on research experience working on independent research projects under the guidance of a faculty member. Through these experiences, teachers are reintroduced to the methods of scientific inquiry, invigorating high school STEM curricula. Relationships built in the RET enable teachers to understand and communicate the latest developments in STEM fields, inspiring student enthusiasm for higher education and career tracks in science and engineering.

RET Evaluation Plan

Teacher’s First Year in RETTeacher’s Subsequent Years in RET
Online pre-program surveyFollow-up survey (8 months post-program)
Six weekly reflectionsSix weekly reflections
First online post-program surveySecond online post-program survey
Focus groupFocus group